“Great Body Functionality”

Through the year we’ve looked at different components of physical fitness, like strength, power, flexibility, mobility, stability and balance.  We’ve also discussed different joints and muscle groups of the body and their function.  This month the aim is to put it all together to give you an understanding of the way your physical body is designed to function.

The first function of skeletal muscle is to support our bodies and work against gravity.  This is done by the deep Stabilizer muscles.  We see this in developing babies as they lift their head from a prone position or sit up.  “Balancing” the spine, neck and head in an upright position for the first time takes some effort!  Similarly, we see the other side of this in frail, older people where the muscles have become weak.  The posture starts to slouch, shoulders are hanging, and even the pelvis can tilt or rotate out of position.

The body can’t function or move properly if it is not aligned well.  It is therefore crucial that the deep Stabilizer muscles work to allow our superficial Mobilizer muscles to do their job well.  So many people only give attention to developing and maintaining the Mobilizer muscles when going to the gym.  These are after all the muscles that can be seen – and make us look good!  But at some point injury sets in because of poor alignment, impingement, overuse or even dislocation of joints.

Even athletes competing in sports like Track and Field, cycling and swimming get frustrated when they don’t see faster times, or get injured too often, after spending a lot of time improving their big mobilizer muscles.  The reason for this is that these improved muscles are not allowed optimal function by poor alignment of the body.  A rotated and unstable pelvis will cause the Hamstring, Quadricep and Hip Flexor muscle groups to work at different lengths for the left and right leg.  These muscles originate from the pelvis, and if the pelvis is not kept still during running, it will result in impaired rhythm, speed, power and different stride lengths for the legs.

In physical conditioning the aim should thus be to improve the overall function of your body.  It is advisable never to do strength training or “toning” in the gym if you are not using your deep (core) stabilizer muscles at the same time.  Please speak with your Biokineticist to help you with exercises that will activate these muscles.  Learn the basic principles of Pilates, and learn how to apply it to functional exercises in the gym or your outdoor training.  You will find that this will not only prevent injury and help rehabilitate injuries, but it will also improve your performance.  Even exercises in the gym will feel easier to perform when your body is functioning well.

As KeNako’s Biokineticist, this is my aim in the KeNako gym.  Not to just put clients and students through their sets and rep’s, but to get them to Great Body Functionality!

By Jan Fourie